John W. Young
Young in 1971
John Watts Young
September 24, 1930
|Died||January 5, 2018 (aged 87)|
Seabrook, Texas U.S.
|Resting place||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Alma mater||Georgia Institute of Technology, B.S. 1952|
|Occupation||Naval Aviator, test pilot|
Time in space
|34d 19h 39m|
|Selection||1962 NASA Group 2|
Total EVA time
|20h 14m 14s|
|Missions||Gemini 3, Gemini 10, Apollo 10, Apollo 16, STS-1, STS-9|
|Retirement||December 31, 2004|
John Watts Young (September 24, 1930 – January 5, 2018) was an American astronaut, naval officer and aviator, test pilot, and aeronautical engineer. He became the ninth person to walk on the Moon as Commander of the Apollo 16 mission in 1972. Young enjoyed the longest career of any astronaut, becoming the first person to fly six space missions over the course of 42 years of active NASA service. He is the only person to have piloted and commanded four different classes of spacecraft: Gemini, the Apollo Command and Service Module, the Apollo Lunar Module, and the Space Shuttle.
Before becoming an astronaut, Young received his Bachelor of Science degree with highest honors in Aeronautical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and joined the U.S. Navy. After serving at sea during the Korean War he became a naval aviator, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (Class 23), setting several world time-to-climb records as a test pilot. Young left the Navy in 1976 with the rank of captain.
In 1965 Young flew on the first crewed Gemini mission, and then commanded the 1966 Gemini 10 mission. In 1969 during Apollo 10, he became the first person to fly solo around the Moon. He then walked on the Moon and drove the Lunar Roving Vehicle on the Moon's surface during Apollo 16, and is one of only three people to have flown to the Moon twice.
Young also commanded two flights of Space Shuttle Columbia: STS-1 in 1981, the Space Shuttle program's first launch, and STS-9 in 1983. Young served as Chief of the Astronaut Office from 1974 to 1987, and retired from NASA in 2004.
Early years and education
John Watts Young was born in at St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco, California, on September 24, 1930, to William Young, a civil engineer, and Wanda Young (née Howland).:9 His father lost his job during the Great Depression, and the family moved to Cartersville, Georgia in 1932. In 1936, the family moved to Orlando, Florida, where he attended Princeton Elementary School.:10–11 When Young was five years old, his mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and taken to Florida State Hospital.:12 Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Young's father joined the Navy as a Seabee, and left Young and his brother Hugh in the care of a housekeeper. Young's father returned after the war and became a plant superintendent for a citrus company. Young attended Orlando High School, where he competed in football, baseball, and track and field, and graduated in 1948.:15–16
Young attended the Georgia Institute of Technology on a Navy ROTC scholarship.:16 He completed midshipman cruises aboard the USS Missouri, where he roomed with future Apollo 10 crew mate Thomas Stafford,:19 and the USS Newport News.:22 His senior year, Young served as the regiment commander of his ROTC detachment.:161 He was a member of the honor societies Scabbard and Blade:161, Tau Beta Pi,:311 Omicron Delta Kappa,:303 Phi Kappa Phi,:308, ANAK Society,:21 and the Sigma Chi fraternity.:277 In 1952, Young graduated second in his class with a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering, and was commissioned as an ensign in the US Navy on June 6, 1952.:22
Young applied to become a naval aviator, but was selected to become a gunnery officer aboard the USS Laws out of Naval Base San Diego.:22–23 He completed a Pacific deployment as fire control and division officer in the Sea of Japan during the Korean War. In May 1953, he received orders to flight school at Naval Air Station Pensacola.:25–27 Young's first flew the SNJ-5 Texan in flight school, and was selected for helicopter training. He flew the HTL-5 and HUP-2 helicopters in training, and was designated as a helicopter pilot in January 1954.:28–30 Young returned to flying the SNJ-5, and advanced to fly the T-28 Trojan, F6F Hellcat, and the F9F Panther. He graduated from flight school and received his aviator wings in December 1954.:30–31
After flight school, Young was assigned to Fighter Squadron 103 (VF-103) at NAS Cecil Field to fly the F9F Cougar.:31 In August 1956, he deployed with Sixth Fleet aboard the USS Coral Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Young flew during the Suez Crisis, but did not fly in combat. His squadron returned in February 1957, and later that year began the transition to fly the F8U Crusader. In September 1958, VFA-103 deployed with Sixth Fleet on the USS Forrestal to the Mediterranean Sea. In January 1959, Young was selected to be in Class 23 at the United States Naval Test Pilot School, and returned home from deployment.:35–39, 43
In 1959, Young graduated second in his class and was assigned to the Armament Division at the Naval Air Test Center.:43 Worked alongside Jim Lovell, he tested the F-4 Phantom II fighter weapons systems.:44–45 In 1962, he set two world time-to-climb records in the F-4, and reached 3,000 meters (9,843 ft) in 34.52 seconds and 25,000 meters (82,021 ft) in 227.6 seconds. In 1962, Young was assigned to fly with Fighter Squadron 143 (VF-143) until his selection as an astronaut candidate in September 1962.:49–50, 57
In September 1962, Young was selected to join Astronaut Group 2.:57 Young and his family moved to Houston, and he began his flying, physical, and academic training as an astronaut.:58–63 After he completed his initial training, Young was assigned to work on the environmental controls system and survivor gear. Young's group selected the David Clark G3C pressure suit, and he helped develop the waste disposal and airlock development systems.:63–64
In April 1964, Young was selected as the pilot of Gemini 3, which was commanded by Gus Grissom. The crew had originally been Alan Shepard and Tom Stafford, but were replaced when Shepard was diagnosed with Meniere's disease.:64 Young and Grissom extensively checked out the capsule they would be flying in. Young advocated for a longer mission than the planned three orbits, but his suggestion was rejected.:74 On March 23, 1965, Gemini 3 launched at 9:24 AM.:78–79 During the flight, the crew evaluated food, waste management, riadiation tests, and spacecraft maneuvering.:81 The Gemini 3 landed 60 miles short of its target area, but the capsule was successfully recovered aboard the USS Intrepid.:82–83 During the flight, Young smuggled a corned beef sandwich aboard, which he and Grissom shared while testing food. The House Committee on Appropriations launched a hearing regarding the incident, and some members argued that the two astronauts had disrupted the scheduled food test.:84–85
After Gemini 3, Grissom and Young were assigned as backup commander and pilot for Gemini 6A. On January 25, 1966, Young and Michael Collins were assigned as the commander and pilot.:87 Gemini 3 launched as scheduled at 5:20 PM on July 18, 1966. Once in orbit, the crew attempted to navigate to their first Agena target vehicle rendezvous using celestial navigation. They were unable to navigate and required inputs from mission control, but successfully docked with the Agena target vehicle.:89–92 Gemini 3 used the rockets on the Agena to maneuver and rendezvous with the Gemini 8 Agena, and set a new altitude record of 764 kilometers (475 mi). Gemini 10 successfully rendezvoused with its second target vehicle, and Young accomplished station keeping to keep the capsule close to the Agena vehicle while Collins conducted two EVAs to retrieve an experiment package.:96–98 Young manually flew the reentry and landed 6.3 kilometers (3.4 nmi) from their recovery ship, the USS Guadalcanal.:101
Young was originally assigned as backup to the second crewed Apollo mission, along with Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan.:111 After the delays caused by the Apollo 1 fire, Young, Cernan, and Stafford were assigned as the Apollo 7 backup crew.:117 In November 1968, Young was assigned as the Apollo 10 Command Module Pilot, with Commander Thomas Stafford and Lunar Module Pilot Eugene Cernan.:126 On May 18, 1969, Apollo 10 launched at 11:49 AM. After the trans-lunar injection burn, Young successfully docked the Command Module with the Lunar Module.:127–128 Young took celestial navigation measurements while enroute to the Moon as a contingency for a loss of communication. After Young performed the burn to enter lunar orbit, Stafford and Cernan entered the lunar module and undocked.:128–132 The lunar module was flown down to 47,000 feet (14 km), and ascended to a rendezvous with the command module. Young flew alone in the command module and prepared to maneuver to the lunar module in the event that its ascent engine did not work.:133–134 After the rendezvous and docking, Young tracked landmarks in preparation for a lunar landing and flew the trans-Earth injection maneuver.:134–136 On May 26, Apollo 10 reentered the Earth's atmosphere and safely landed at 11:52 AM 395 miles east of Pago Pago. It was recovered by the USS Princeton and the crew returned to Houston.:138
Young was assigned as the backup commander of Apollo 13, along with Charlie Duke and Jack Swigert. Duke exposed both the primary and backup crews to the German measles, causing Swigert to replace Ken Mattingly, who was not immune to German measles, two days prior to the launch.:145–146
Young was assigned as the commander of Apollo 16, along with Duke and Mattingly. The mission's targeted landing site was the Descartes Highlands, and the crew conducted geologic surveys in volcanic fields to prepare for their EVAs.:155–157 Apollo 16 launched at 12:54 PM on April 16, 1972.:160 Apollo 16's lunar landing was almost aborted when a malfunction was detected in the SPS engine control system in the Service Module. It was determined that the problem could be worked around, and the mission continued. On the surface, Young took three moonwalks in the Descartes Highlands with Charles Duke on April 21, 22 and 23, 1972, making Young the ninth person to walk on the surface of the Moon, while Ken Mattingly flew the Command Module in lunar orbit.
Young's final assignment in Apollo was as the backup commander for Cernan on Apollo 17. The backup crew was originally the Apollo 15 crew, but Deke Slayton removed them from the assignment when he learned they had taken a small statue to the Moon, as well as stamps that they sold to a dealer.
Space Shuttle program
Young flew two missions of the Space Shuttle, both aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. He commanded the program's 1981 maiden orbital flight, STS-1, and in 1983 commanded STS-9, which carried the first Spacelab module. In 1986 he was in line to make a record seventh space flight on STS-61-J to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope, but the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster earlier that year had delayed NASA's schedule.
Young was openly critical of NASA management following the Challenger disaster, and in April 1987 was made Special Assistant to JSC Director Aaron Cohen for Engineering, Operations and Safety. NASA denied that his criticism triggered the move, although Young and industry insiders believed that was the reason for the reassignment. In February 1996, he was assigned as Associate Director (Technical) JSC.
During his NASA career, Young logged more than 15,000 hours of training, mostly in simulators, to prepare for positions on eleven spaceflights in prime and backup crew positions.
Young worked for NASA for 42 years and announced his retirement on December 7, 2004. He retired on December 31, 2004, at the age of 74, but continued to attend the Monday Morning Meeting at the Astronaut Office at JSC for several years thereafter. He logged more than 15,275 hours flying time in props, jets, helicopters, and rocket jets; more than 9,200 hours in T-38s; and 835 hours in spacecraft during six space flights.
On April 12, 2006, Young appeared at the 25th anniversary of the STS-1 launch at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, along with pilot Robert Crippen. The two spoke of their experiences during the flight.
In 2012, Young published an autobiography, Forever Young.
In December 1955, Young married Barbara White of Savannah, Georgia,:33 and they had two children, Sandra and John. They were divorced in the summer of 1971.:155 Later that year, he married Susy Feldman:155 and they lived in Houston.
Military and NASA insignia and decorations
- Navy Astronaut Wings (1965)
- Navy Distinguished Service Medal with gold award star (1969, 1972)
- Distinguished Flying Cross with two gold award stars
- Congressional Space Medal of Honor (1981)
- NASA Distinguished Service Medal (1969) with three oak leaf clusters (1981, 2004)
- NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal (1994)
- NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal (1988)
- NASA Exceptional Service Medal (1965, 1966, 2006)
- NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal (1992)
- NASA Space Flight Medal (1981, 1983)
- China Service Medal (1953)
- Korean Service Medal with two battle stars (1953)
- National Defense Service Medal with star (1953, 1966)
- United Nations Korea Medal (1953)
Awards and honors
- Inducted into six Aviation and Astronaut Halls of Fame
- General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award from the Space Foundation (2010)
- Exceptional Engineering Achievement Award (1985)
- Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement (1993)
- American Astronautical Society Space Flight Award (1993)
- In 1995, Young was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.
- In 2001, Young was inducted into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame.
- NASA Ambassador of Exploration (2005)
- He was the first John Young History Maker Honoree in 2005
- Six honorary doctorate degrees
- John Young Parkway, a major highway in Orlando and Kissimmee, Florida, is named for him. When he heard the highway was named for him, he said "Them boys shouldn't a'done that. I ain't dead yet". An elementary school (OCPS) on the parkway also bears his name.
- The planetarium at the Orlando Science Center was originally named in his honor.
- Ranked as the No. 3 most-popular space hero in a 2010 Space Foundation survey
- Recipient of Aviation Week's 1998 Philip J. Klass Award for Lifetime Achievement
- Asteroid 5362 Johnyoung was named in his memory in 2018
Along with nine other Gemini astronauts, Young was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1982. Young, along with the other 12 Gemini astronauts, was inducted into the second U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame class in 1993.
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics fellow
- American Astronautical Society fellow
- Society of Experimental Test Pilots fellow
Scott Kelly (an American astronaut who spent nearly a year aboard the International Space Station) had high praise for Young in his memoir, Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery. Upon learning that Young would interview him as part of his astronaut selection process, Kelly listed some of Young's more impressive achievements, and then stated simply, "He was what you might call an astronaut's astronaut, a living legend. I wanted to be just like him."
Young is one of the astronauts featured in the 2007 documentary film and book In the Shadow of the Moon, the 2007 documentary film The Wonder of It All, and the 2008 Discovery Channel series When We Left Earth.
- "John W. Young" (PDF). Biographical Data. NASA. December 2018. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
- Speck, Emilee (September 24, 2016). "Moon-walking astronaut John Young turned 86 on Saturday". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
- "From Gemini to Shuttle: John Young Retires". NASA. December 7, 2004. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
- Lewis, Russell (January 6, 2018). "Gene Cernan, Last Man To Walk On The Moon, Dies At 82". NPR. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
- Young, John; Hansen, James (2013). Forever Young: A Life of Adventure in Air and Space. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. ISBN 978-0-8130-4933-5.
- Goldstein, Richard (January 6, 2018). "John Young, Who Led First Space Shuttle Mission, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
- Boswell, Blount, ed. (1952). Blue Print. 45. Georgia Institute of Technology. p. 108.
- Dunbar, Brian (March 23, 2008). "Gemini 6 Back-up Crew". NASA. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
- "Apollo 13 Crew". Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
- "Descartes Surprise". Apollo Lunar Surface Journal. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
- "Apollo 16". NASA. July 8, 2009. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
- "Apollo crew warned about commercialism". The Free Lance-Star. August 1, 1972. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
- "Apollo 17 Crew". The Apollo Program. Washington, D.C.: National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
- "John Young". Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
- "STS-61-J". Encyclopedia Astronautica. November 17, 2007. Archived from the original on January 8, 2010. Retrieved March 31, 2010.
- Dunn, Marcia (January 6, 2018). "NASA: Legendary astronaut, moonwalker John Young has died". ABC News. Archived from the original on January 6, 2018. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
- "The Nation". Los Angeles Times. April 16, 1987. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
- "Top Astronaut Says NASA Forced Him From Job". Los Angeles Times. July 30, 1987. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
- Fuglesang, Christer (2007). Tretton dygn i rymden efter fjorton år på jorden: dagbok från rymden [Thirteen days in space, after fourteen years on earth: a diary from space] (in Swedish). Albert Bonniers Förlag. ISBN 978-91-85555-15-4. OCLC 185242561.
- Ryba, Jeanne (April 7, 2006). "To honor the 25th anniversary ..." NASA. Archived from the original on May 31, 2010. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
- "Forever Young: A Life of Adventure in Air and Space". University Press of Florida. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
- "NASA Remembers Agency's Most Experienced Astronaut". NASA. January 6, 2018. Archived from the original on January 6, 2018.
- "John Young, ninth astronaut on moon, led first shuttle mission, dies at 87". collectSPACE. January 6, 2018. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
- John Young's burial at Arlington National Cemetery
- "Historical Recipient List" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
- "Biography: 2 Exceptional Service Medals". JohnWYoung.org. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
- "The General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award". National Space Symposium. 2010. Archived from the original on June 15, 2013. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
- Stevens, Janet (January 22, 2010). "Legendary Astronaut John Young to Receive General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award" (Press release). National Space Symposium. Archived from the original on June 15, 2013. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
- "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
- Sprekelmeyer, Linda, editor. These We Honor: The International Aerospace Hall of Fame. Donning Co. Publishers, 2006. ISBN 978-1-57864-397-4.
- "Captain John W. Young". Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
- "NASA Names Astronaut John Young Ambassador of Exploration". NASA. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
- "11th Annual John Young History Maker Celebration" (PDF). Historical Society of Central Florida. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
- "John Young Elementary School Homepage". John Young Elementary School. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
- Schreuder, Cindy (October 28, 1990). "Where Stargazers Can Get The Big Picture". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
- Hively, Carol (October 27, 2010). "Space Foundation Survey Reveals Broad Range of Space Heroes; Early Astronauts Still the Most Inspirational" (Press release). Space Foundation. Archived from the original on January 7, 2018. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
- "Aviation Week's Laureate Awards Past Winners". Aviation Week. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
- Shay, Erin (October 3, 1982). "Astronauts Laud Gemini as Precursor to Shuttle". Albuquerque Journal. Albuquerque, New Mexico. p. 3 – via Newspapers.com.
- Clark, Amy (March 14, 1993). "Activities Honor Gemini Astronauts". Florida Today. Cocoa, Florida. p. 41 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Biography: Organization Memberships". JohnWYoung.org. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
- Pearlman, Robert Z. (October 25, 2018). "Space Station-Bound Cargo Ship Named for Moonwalker John Young". Space.com.
- Volz, Brianna (January 6, 2018). "Astronaut John Young, who grew up in Orlando, dies at 87". WKMG. Retrieved January 24, 2019.
- Kelly, Scott (2017). Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery. With Margaret Lazarus Dean. Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House. p. 201. ISBN 9781524731595.
- "Apollo 13, Full Cast and Crew". IMDb. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
- "From the Earth to the Moon, Full Cast and Crew". IMDb. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
- "In the Shadow of the Moon: Full Cast and Crew". IMDb. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
- "The Wonder of It All: Full Cast and Crew". IMDb. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
- "When We Left Earth: Full Cast and Crew". IMDb. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
- Thompson, Neal (2004). Light This Candle: The Life & Times of Alan Shepard, America's First Spaceman (1st ed.). New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-609-61001-5. LCCN 2003015688. OCLC 52631310.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- "Conversation With John Young", Houston Chronicle (December 17, 2004)
- "The Big Picture: Ways to Mitigate or Prevent Very Bad Planet Earth Events", an essay by Young
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to John Young (astronaut).|
- Interview with John Young for NOVA series: To the Moon WGBH Educational Foundation, raw footage, 1998
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- John Young on IMDb
- John Young at Find a Grave
| Chief of the Astronaut Office